“(Bishop Fred Henry) was a very bold bishop in terms of his statements. I’m sure that he has created controversy. I don’t think it’s for that purpose. I think he wants to be provocative, he wants to sort of allow people to understand the truth that might be at stake in some of these social issues,” said William McGrattan, 60.
Coming from Peterborough, McGrattan will be installed as Calgary’s eighth bishop at a mass Monday at St. Mary’s Cathedral, attended by 30 Canadian bishops, local priests and an expected crowd of about 1,000. He is taking the helm of a diocese that covers 79 parishes and missions, 317 Catholic schools and more than 400,000 parishioners who have been guided by the same faith leader for almost two decades.
Bishop Henry was a polarizing figure. Lauded for his work with the poor and on climate change, his conservative positions on same-sex marriage and gender identity were often at odds with those outside, and sometimes inside, the church. He spoke against students receiving the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, encouraged the Catholic School District to abandon casinos as fundraisers and closed three aging churches in Lethbridge in favour of a 1,200-seat mega-church.
Right, so the Catholic church’s previous representative in Calgary was a science denialist piece of shit who openly flouted Alberta’s human rights laws for the entirety of his tenure. And, as we’ve previously discussed, the current government has the unenviable position of discovering the extent of human rights abuses perpetrated by the Catholic church in this province and now has to deal with the prospect of reining them in or joining the Progressive Conservative’s legacy of tolerating the abuses.
None of this is surprising, particularly to Queer Catholic and ex-Catholic Albertans. So meet the new boss, same as the old boss:
“With regard to gay-straight alliance, even that very terminology creates a sense of what I would say not an agenda but is promoting a certain lifestyle. In Ontario, we call that respecting differences so that we allow young people to know there are differences and that we need to respect those without labelling them with those particular terms.”
Perhaps the most controversial issue in Alberta schools of late is the NDP government’s new guidelines to protect the rights of gay and transgender students and teachers.
Although new to the province, McGrattan did not sidestep the issue.
“I have found them to be a little more strident, a little more directive in terms of how they’re trying to promote this particular theory. And I refer back to that terminology. It is gender theory, it’s not truth and therefore I think we begin to organize our society and establish relationships based on a theory.”
And it makes you hope they’ll think the same thing about gravity, because then maybe they’ll just… float the fuck away.